Carbohydrates are the Master Fuel for athletes. Both the brain and body rely on carbohydrates as their main source of energy, which is utilized both externally through physical activity and internally within your cells for transporting essential molecules throughout the body. To function properly, the brain needs a minimum of 130 gms. of carbohydrates per day. For athletes, carbohydrates should account for 45 to 65% of their daily caloric intake, as carbohydrates help to postpone fatigue and help you perform at your best on the course and at the gym for longer durations.
Examples of common sugars include glucose, fructose, and lactose. Starches are complex carbohydrates. Complex carbs can be found in fibers, starches and glycogen (stored in muscles). Simple sugars include glucose (supplies energy to cells), fructose (from fruits and vegetables) and galactose (milk sugar).
Complex carbohydrates should make up much of your diet, as they are digested slowly and provide you with a steady source of energy throughout the day. Simple carbs can be taken before, during, and in between workouts, events, and competitions. They provide you with a quick source of energy as they break down quickly, but be careful not to give in to processed sugars. These may give you a burst of energy, but lack any vitamins, minerals, or nutrients that are worth more in the long run.
Here’s some examples of complex carbs you should always stock up on, and some simple sugars you may be familiar with.